(JS) Hi my little sweeties. I write to you from the comfort of my bed, having just completed my skincare routine and resting my deeply sunburnt body. This week I find myself in a bit of a transitional moment. As the high of konmari-ing my bathroom began to wear off last Sunday, it occurred to me that I fully missed my PhD convocation. I mention this not to brag, but to suggest that now more than ever, I need structure in my life, and what better way to impose a semblance of order onto my endless, jobless summer than a low stakes weekly xanga substitute in collaboration with my dear pal? Poco a poco, se va lejos.
A spin on skae meuniere with golden butter and lime, duck fat potatoes, spicy Tuscan kale
I’m really looking forward to creating things and sharing with you here at digestivo. Sal and I have cooked up (see what I did there) a delicious (ok) assortment of regular features that we think you’ll really love, and we hope to incorporate some of your ideas as well! We’d love to hear from you. Feel free to email us with questions and suggestions, or even just to ask for recipes from a cookbook we’ve plugged or lurking behind paywalls (shoutout to our friends at the failing New York Times).
Some other things on the menu this week:
Melissa Clark’s grated carrot salad with preserved lemon and coriander, a favorite from her latest book, Dinner in French
Braised escarole with garlic and colatura d'alici, the latest installment in my hot Italian summer cosplay
Mark Bittman’s matter of factly titled shrimp in green sauce, a quick and adaptable weeknight main (throw some ramps in it, 'tis the season after all)
(SB) In case you suddenly feel a rapid shift of energy from the grace of above, do know that I am writing to you from the couch, where I’ve just spent three hours in a zoom call. I took an all too brief walk to my room to fling myself on my bed before returning here, like a moth, to this computer screen. It’s just about time to think about dinner, and I’m once again reminded of the wisdom of having a plan. I’ve never been one to write out my plans for what to eat in a week. Even in this new era of once-a-week grocery trips and scrupulous pantry management, I seem to have engineered a scenario where each mealtime approaches as a gauntlet over which I can, once again, test my knowledge of what’s in the fridge, what it may work with, and how long it’ll take to make. It’s resulted in some inspired creations and daily affirmation of my virtuosity in the kitchen, but I’m saying enough! I gotta start making a plan.
Cottage cheese, tempered mustard seeds, curry leaves, ginger, chana dal
Jake and I usually text around nine times a day about what we’re eating, what we’re planning to eat, and how we may improve or refine our strategy for approaching a set of ingredients or a dish. I think it’s made us both more dexterous and imaginative in the kitchen, and I’m excited to widen our trust circle to include you.
This week we’ve had:
Fake out "curd rice" with cottage cheese (just curd, if you will)
Avocados split and salted and topped with a lot of garlic breadcrumbs (homemade, ofc)
TMYK: Bad News Beans
(SB) Sometimes we make recipes that need an intervention. Other times we try things that don’t work… and this is a place to talk about those times! This week: a harrowing story of miscooking a bean that is perhaps most revealing of my own intense anxiety around food waste and an inability to stop obsessing.
Ceci n'est pas un LENTIL
Racho Gordo describes the tepary as a “small, hearty, and dense bean … indigenous to North America.” Bred by various indigenous peoples across the Southwest to be drought resistant, the beans seem to have a bit of a cult following. They’re currently sold out, and people in the comments rave: Niel says they’re “perhaps the best I’ve ever made” while Heathet (sic?) writes “delicate and smoky, absolutely delicious.”
So I thought, hey, why not throw in the teparies instead of some lentils in a lentil soup. They look similar, they probably taste great. Moments after I put them in a pot with some celery, carrots, and mushrooms, I decided to refer back to my vague memory of the tepary, only to find that the Rancho Gordo website also warns that “they may look like lentils but they don’t taste like them and despite the small size, they don’t cook like them (...) we suggest avoiding celery and carrot when you cook them.”
I didn't take a picture of my beans but I did need a drink afterward
You really hate to see it. Because the beans were already in the pot, we waited a valiant 45 minutes before accepting that these little beans weren’t going to “plump up a bit but keep a meat, dense texture” for at least a couple of hours and made some frozen mac n cheese. The beans, which bubbled away dutifully softening (but not too much!), continued to haunt me. They were tender and beguilingly familiar-sweet-smelling when I packed them away and proceeded to have no fewer than six (6) anxious dreams about what to make with them, what a “southwestern” stew even was, and what acceptable ingredients we had.
Thanks to a fortunate Misfits Market haul, we did have a lot of Anaheim peppers which I roasted on the stove and peeled, threw in a blender with some ACV and simmered with half the beans and some cumin and a couple of long-ago-frozen pork chops I discovered and cut up. I also put some pumpkin in there, and called it a southwestern miracle.
In case you were wondering, I refried remaining leftovers in some beef fat from burgers last week.
TRASH TALK: Sourdough Pancakes
(JS) Cultivating and maintaining your own sourdough starter quickly produces an excess of starter, less lovingly referred to as “discard.” Throwing away what is essentially flour, water, and natural yeast feels criminal at a moment when two of these three ingredients are flying off the shelves. Fortunately for all my natty leavened heads out there (I’m sorry), with just half a cup of starter and some pantry staples, you’re well on your way to tomorrow’s pancakes. Once you’ve carried out your routine feeding, combine the discard with some flour, milk (or your preferred dairy alternative), and a bit of sugar, and leave it out on the counter to ferment overnight. The next morning, this sponge is combined with some eggs, baking soda, and you’re good to go.
Who is she?
Usually I’ve turned to Sam Sifton’s recipe, a versatile batter that can also be used for waffles, and yields a browned and bubbly result that pairs especially well with jam and ricotta. Lately though, a surplus of apples in my Misfits box led me to try Tejal Rao’s cast-iron sourdough pancakes, adapted from Vinegar Hill House. Her no-flip method starts with lightly caramelizing whatever fruit you have on hand -- I’ve been frying my apples in a bit of spiced cocoa butter I had at the back of my cabinet, and would be keen to experiment with other flavors (garam masala or baharat would be most welcome). Once they’ve taken on a bit of color, pour your batter over the fruit and place the pan in a hot oven for 15 minutes. What emerges falls somewhere between an English muffin and an upside down cake, with a crispy golden brown exterior and a hint of sourdough tang. Tejal suggests serving the pancake with maple syrup and butter, if you happen to run out of syrup, some combination of cultured dairy and preserves will certainly suffice.
POT CHEF: Pack Your (One) Bowl and Go
(JS) Shortly after the one month stay at home-iversary, I treated myself to a half ounce of prime pretty shitty sativa for the purpose of making edibles. After rendering a pound of rather potent cannabutter using my slow cooker, I found myself in a darker corner of the internet seeking answers for what to do with the strained buds. Reddit and related academic fora (hello “Grass City”) offered some alarming suggestions, including feeding the weed to my dog. Ultimately I said fuck it, and thew it in a pot with another stick of butter and a little water, hoping to coax a bit more THC out of the grime.
A big night for @NYTCooking Cookies
As fate would have it, that same night @NYTCooking posted a “one bowl shortbread” recipe on their instagram, the perfect test case for my second extraction butter. I added orange zest, rubbing it into the sugar to really extract the oils, and a pinch of ground cardamom, both of which played nicely against the grassy notes in the butter. I know edibles are always a bit of a gamble but let me tell you… she came on slowly but shit did I sleep well. An added bonus, according to the recipe notes, is that this shortbread “keeps for weeks -- but only if you hide it,” which begs the question: what is Melissa Clark smoking?
The NYT roasted mango lassi (SB adds a little fresh ginger!)
THE WISH LIST
A regular section to showcase what we’re coveting, both individually and collectively -- our dream entrees and shared dessert, so to speak. NB: sugar daddies are encouraged to inquire within.
(JS) My boyfriend recently turned me onto the incredible selection of planters at Garmentory when I needed to get a birthday gift for a friend. I ended up buying a couple from Group Partner, but was so taken with my selections that I might just order some for myself. Chic decor that’s also LOL? We absolutely love to see it.
(SB) This is a cold brew or plastic-pour-over household but I’ve been coveting a multi-cup coffee situation. Maybe a french press? A Bialetti? Do I have to start looking up third wave coffee shops in every city I visit and go back to working in tech if I get a Chemex?
(JS & SB) At Amy Stavis’ recommendation, we’ve been perusing Nuts.com, which contrary to popular belief sells far more than the eponymous product. Our dream haul would include a bag of pistachio flour (an embarrassment of riches) and seaweed peanuts (lookin' like tiny eggs!), as well as a broad selection of fudge flavors. Old Fashioned is marketed as “just like the kind you find on the Boardwalk” (what boardwalk?), while the Kentucky Bourbon flavor, allegedly “smooth and luscious as the smoky mountains,” has warranted three consecutive reviews by “Laura” in Chapel Hill.
JS & SB
PS: Real fans may know from following our instagram stories that we tried to send this message yesterday, but were immediately confronted with a notice from TinyLetter's "abuse team" for potential "compliance" issues. We're happy to report that our sending privileges have been reactivated, and you can look forward to issue 002 and all future issues on WEDNESDAYS.
PS: we even made an official email for this! Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org